Faso: SBHS needs to be replicated nationwide

April 12, 2017 06:47 PM

MIDDLEBURGH - Six year old Jackson Shaw had a medical check-up on Wednesday afternoon. But instead of missing school, and instead of his parents leaving work early, Jackson was seen right in his own school building.

"The staff is great," says John Shaw, Jackson's father, "You know them all. They know you. And it's not like walking into your normal doctor's office where every day it's a different doctor."

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Jackson is one of more than 600 students in the Middleburgh School District enrolled in the Hallways to Health Program.

"It's providing access to health care where the kids are," says Dr. Chris Kjolhede, Director of the Bassett Healthcare Network's School-Based Health. "If they can get to school, they can get health care."

The Bassett Healthcare Network oversees 20 school-based health centers, which provides medical, dental, and mental health services to more than 7,600 students pre-K through 12th grade.

Middleburgh Schools Superintendent Michele Weaver calls the program a win-win.

"Students are in classes more, parents are able to stay at work, and we're able to work together for the mental and physical and social being of the children," Weaver says, "We're talking about three and four year olds that are now seen within the school so we know they're getting the best health care possible."

A study by Johns Hopkins University found that school-based health centers reduce emergency room visits. They also attract harder-to-reach populations, especially minorities and males. In addition, adolescents who received counseling in a school-based health center showed a decrease in absenteeism and tardiness.

Those are just some of the reasons Congressman John Faso (R - Kinderhook) thinks the program needs to be expanded.

"I'm exploring means by which the federal government could support programs like this across the nation because it's a way of providing primary health care in a convenient setting, Faso says, "It works for parents and it's definitely a plus for children."

After seeing a child, the school-based health center bills the insurance company. They'll also try to get them onto Child Health Plus, and, if they qualify, onto Medicaid.

If there's no insurance, there will not be any out of pocket costs.


Dan Levy

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